Islamists have stretched their lead in the final round of Egypt's landmark parliamentary election, official preliminary results show.
The voter turnout in the final round was 62 per cent, Abdel Moaez Ibrahim, the election commission chief said on Saturday.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the country's best-organised political group, came out top in seven of the nine provinces where the balloting was held on January 3-4, according to state television.
The group's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) secured six out of 50 seats contested by individual candidates in the same round, the broadcaster reported.
In second place was Al-Nour, the more conservative Salafist party, that took the lead in the other two provinces and won one seat for single candidates.
The remaining 43 seats will be the focus of runoff vote set for January 9-10, state TV said.
The FJP and Al-Nour claimed on Saturday to have together taken 62.2 per cent of the vote in the final stage of a general election, maintaining their lead in the overall contest.
The Brotherhood's Democratic Alliance list has won 41 per cent of the seats so far, while another list led by the
Al-Nour garnered 20 per cent of the seats.
Banned and oppressed under former president Hosni Mubarak, the Islamists had gained more than 65 per cent of vote in the previous two stages of the staggered election that began on November 28.
They are widely expected to dominate the new parliament, the prime task of which is to pick a commission to draft a new constitution for Egypt.
The Al-Nour Party seeks strict application of Islamic law, while the more moderate Brotherhood may seek an alliance with liberal groups to allay concerns about the prospect of an Islamist-led Egypt.
The election, the first since Mubarak left power last February, is based on a complex system.
Two-thirds of the new parliament's seats are allocated for party lists on a proportional representation basis, and the remainder is reserved for individual candidates.
Under the electoral system adopted after Mubarak's ouster, second-round run-offs still have to be held later this month
for the one third of seats that are decided in first-past-the-post constituencies.
From January 29, two-stage elections will then be held for the upper house.
Once the new parliament has been sworn in, a commmission will be appointed to draft a new constitution before presidential elections are held by the end of June.
Liberals have trailed in the three stages of the legislative polls. Partial results issued by the Muslim Brotherhood suggested non-religious parties also performed more poorly in the final round.
According to the results, the liberal Egyptian Bloc won 9 per cent of the seats so far, the Wafd party took 9 per cent and former Mubarak loyalists took 4 per cent of the vote - a stronger performance than the Revolution Continues co-alition of youth activists who won just 2 per cent of the seats.
The moderate Islamist Al-Wasat won 2 per cent, while the rest were taken by independents.
Full and final results are to be announced later in January.